JR Kyushu International Student Pass
On August 25, 2010, JR Kyushu introduced a new International Student Pass program that combines the 3-day Kyushu Rail Pass (previously only available to “Temporary Visitor” visa holders) with new 2-day tickets and offers a significant discount on travel throughout the Kyushu area. This is now the cheapest and most efficient way for international students to visit multiple cities in Kyushu.
2 days 3 days
Northern Kyushu 5,000 yen 7,000 yen
All Kyushu 9,000 yen 13,000 yen
JR Kyushu International Student Passes permit travel on any JR Kyushu train in the area. The “All Kyushu” pass includes the bullet train from Kumamoto to Kagoshima (normal one-way cost: 7,770 yen). As an example of the magnitude of the discount, consider these normal one-way JR fares:
Fri morning Nagasaki – Fukuoka 4,410 yen
Fri night Fukuoka – Kumamoto 3,940 yen
Sat night Kumamoto-Kagoshima 7,150 yen
Sun night Kagoshima-Nagasaki 12,400 yen
A 3-day All Kyushu pass would save 14,900 yen on this trip. Even if you cut the trip short and planned to return from Kumamoto after two days (5,750 yen to Nagasaki), you would save 9,100 yen with a 2-day Northern Kyushu pass.
You can purchase the pass at any JR station in Kyushu. Plan your trip with http://www.hyperdia.com (English or Japanese) to make the most of this discount.
Seishun 18 Ticket
For about a quarter of the year, the Seishun 18 ticket is the cheapest way to ride the JR system with friends. It costs 11,500 yen for one day for five people (or five days for one person, or any other combination) and may be used on local and rapid trains anywhere in Japan. It is available from any JR station during these times:
To use during: Purchase between:
March 1 - Apr. 10 Feb. 20 - Mar. 31
July 20 - Sept. 10 July 1 - Aug. 31
Dec. 10 - Jan. 20 Dec. 1 - Jan. 10
With careful planning and the right number of people, it is possible to use a Seishun 18 ticket to take a day trip to Fukuoka at a much lower cost than regular train or bus fare. For example, five people can take a 3.5-hour trip from Nagasaki to Fukuoka (transferring to the Kagoshima line at Tosu, about 3 hours after leaving Nagasaki) and return on the same day at a total cost of only 2,300 yen per person.
This is a 9,000 yen savings off of the cheapest possible round-trip bus fare for five people (two four-ticket books at 8,000 each and a round trip ticket at 4,500 yen) and a 13,500 yen savings off of the cheapest alternative train tickets (five 2-day JR Kyushu International Student passes at 5,000 yen each).
When planning a route, be sure to select only "Ordinary Train" on http://www.hyperdia.com (English or Japanese), or use the "Seishun 18" search function on http://www.jorudan.co.jp/ (Japanese only).
If you plan to visit multiple cities in Kyushu and prefer traveling by bus, consider a SunQ Pass, available for 8,000-14,000 yen for 3 or 4-day trips. For example, you could take the following three-day trip:
Fri morning Nagasaki-Fukuoka 2,500 yen
Fri night Fukuoka-Kumamoto 2,000 yen
Sat night Kumamoto-Oita 2,700 yen
Sun night Oita-Nagasaki 4,500 yen
With a 3-day SunQ pass for 8,000 yen, you would save 3,700 yen off the regular reservation rate plus the expense of local buses, virtually all of which are also covered by the SunQ pass. For details on the SunQ pass, see http://www.sunqpass.jp/english/index.shtml.
Can I obtain or use the Japan Rail Pass?
The Japan Rail Pass must be purchased outside of Japan and may only be used by those with a "Temporary Visitor" visa status, which does not include "College Student." This also applies to the Kyushu Rail Pass, but a pass with similar discounts is now available for international students (see JR Kyushu International Student Pass above).